Friday, July 23, 2010

Rusch is queen of Cascade Cream Puff 100-miler

Wood River mountain bikers in Oregon

Ketchum's Rebecca Rusch would have been entitled to a break, coming off a sixth-place Pro Women's finish in the 2010 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Marathon Nationals 50-miler July 5 at Breckenridge, Colo.

But Rusch, 41, was back in action six days later in a race called America's toughest 100-mile fat tire challenge—the two-lap Cascade Cream Puff 100 held on Sunday, July 11 at Oakridge/Westfir, Ore.

The rugged course included about 18,000 feet of vertical climbing and was staged on about 50% single track.

Yet it may have been the fastest Puff ever for the 170 finishers in 15 classes, including nine from the Wood River Valley. It was a tough crowd of Cream Puffers, with a finisher rate of 83% despite warm temperatures of 85-90 under 2000 feet elevation for most of the afternoon.

Red Bull/Specialized rider Rusch was up to the task, finishing the 105-mile course in 9.33:09—good for 10th place overall in the combined men's and women's field. She had the fastest women's time by 32 minutes.

Hammer Nutrition's Cary Smith, 42, of Wyoming took home the overall championship in 8.33:43 ahead of Singlespeed winner Evan Plews, 34, of Oregon in 8.52:02.

Most of the Wood River riders were in Singlespeed at the Cascade Cream Puff including fourth-place Greg Martin, 38, of Club Ride Apparel/Black Cat Bicycles.

Martin was timed in 9.49:05. Like Rusch, he was racing on short rest. Martin placed 13th in 4.55:44 the first-year Men's Singlespeed competition of the USA Cycling Marathon Nationals at Breckenridge July 5.

Six seconds behind Martin in Cream Puff Singlespeed was Sean McLaughlin, 38, of Club Ride in 9.49:11. Pete Ross, 44, of Sun Summit was eighth in 10.25:46. Michael Shane, 37, of Sun Summit ended up 12th of 33 finishers in 10.43:22.

Another strong finisher in the 28-racer Category 1 Men's 45-plus class was Chris Gardner, 48, of Broken Spoke Cycling. He podiumed in third place with a final time of 10.29:41.

"We represented the Wood River Valley fairly well," said Gardner about his fellow Cream Puff riders.

In the 54-racer Category 1 Men's 35-44 category, Club Ride Apparel's Kyle Rafford, 43, finished 18th in 11.01:49 and Mike Herlinger, 40, also of Club Ride Apparel, came to the finish in 32nd place at 11.28:19.

That Men's 35-44 class also featured former Idaho Mountain Express reporter Matt Furber, 43, who placed 44th in 12.58:24.

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